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New plan for growing public transport needs

Monday, 20 February 2012 8:30 a.m.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has adopted a new Regional Public Transport Plan for a growing demand in the region.

The Strategy, Policy and Planning Committee heard that Bay of Plenty urban bus services had grown in recent years, with patronage in Rotorua and Tauranga growing by 16 percent annually between 2004 and 2011. On-going improvements would be required to maintain growth, increase the number of people using public transport and achieve economic development goals.

Several issues had affected public transport, including withdrawal of funding for school bus services creating peak time congestion, levels of available funding which risked diminishing the value of previous investment, planning for access and mobility needs of small and isolated communities, combined with volatile fuel prices and an ageing population which would increase demand for accessible travel, Regional Transport Committee Chairman Doug Owens said.

"The Bay has two quite different requirements for public transport. On the one hand, in Tauranga and Rotorua there is a high demand for public transport from workers and students. On the other hand, our rural areas are at an increasing risk of living in isolation. The new Public Transport Plan aims to address these two issues in quite different ways," Councillor Owens said.

The Regional Council is responsible for planning, managing and providing financial assistance for public transport services in the region. The Regional Public Transport Plan specifies how it will give effect to public transport components of the Regional Land Transport Strategy and contribute to achieving an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable land transport system in an efficient and effective manner.

It enables the Regional Council to contract public transport services, impose controls on commercial services and provide financial assistance to operators or users of a taxi or shuttle services.

It replaces the Council's 2006 public transport plan, identifying targeted services, including Total Mobility services, and describes the levels of service for public transport that people can expect in different parts of the region, identifying priorities for future investment in public transport and what funding is required.

It includes initiatives to improve efficiency, increase frequency and expand coverage in Tauranga and Rotorua, implementation of real-time information, integrated ticketing and bus priority measures as well as considering more flexible demand-responsive services outside the main urban networks.

The review, begun in 2010, has included consultation with community groups and stakeholders from the transport sector, research and analysis of the commercial transport sector, national and international approaches to fare structures and service frequency triggers. The Council has also worked with nearby regional councils and local councils, and heard 36 public submissions.

The submissions indicated a level of satisfaction and support for the direction of the Plan, with minor details to be highlighted or changed.



For further media information please contact Garry Maloney, Transport Policy Manager on 0800 884 880 or Linda Thompson, Senior Communications Advisor, on direct dial 0800 884 881 ext 8149 or (021) 923 339.

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